New survey highlights latest trends in utilities and smart city industries


According to the 2018 Strategic Directions: Smart Cities & Utilities Report by Black & Veatch, improvements on data analytics, electric transportation and next generation communications technologies will drive smart city development.

Black & Veatch finds creativity on financing models challenging old notions that smart city projects require massive upfront investments.

The report comprises of survey results conducted on some 644 participants across the municipal, utility and technology sectors.

The survey aims to provide an understanding of how global macro trends in the smart cities sector affect smart city developments in Arizona, Seattle and San Diego.

The report explores community partnerships and innovative financing of smart city technologies in the three US cities.

The survey findings include:

  • Nearly 43% of municipalities collaborated with utilities to help determine the focus of their smart city initiatives.
  • About 61% of survey respondents see public-private partnerships as the most effective financing model, followed by government grants and subsidies.
  • Three-quarters of electric utilities either have a grid modernization plan in place, or are currently developing one.
  • Nearly 77% of utilities plan to adopt a managed charging approach to balance increased load on the grid related to EV charging.

Fred Ellermeier, Managing Director of Black & Veatch’s Connected Communities business, said: “2017 marked an inflection point for smart city initiatives.

“Data-driven infrastructure pilot programs continue to demonstrate success while the path for EVs became dramatically clearer. The long-term benefits of a master plan that can account for the way all systems — power, water, transportation, public safety and the communication overlay — work together are undeniable.”

Smart city drivers

Black & Veatch says increased development and improvements on zero emission technologies is driving increases in electric vehicle sales, in the development of EV infrastructure and in the use of autonomus vehicles and greener buses.

These developments will ensure transport agencies in major markets such as China, France and the UK will also gain from smart city programmes.

Black & Veatch adds that concerns about climate change has pushed the development of plans to reduce or eliminate traditional internal combustion engine technologies in these major economies.

Utility companies continue to play essential roles in cities’ smart city plans as they deploy smart grid technologies and modernise ageing infrastructure for grid reliability.

Moreover, utility challenges associated with increases in distributed energy resources is driving the adoption of smart grid technologies.

On the other hand, two-thirds of municipalities who participated in the survey highlighted budget constraints as chief disruptor to smart city development.

Cities and municipalities are also failing to manage, analyse and secure data acquired from the Internet of things devices.

John Chevrette, President of Black & Veatch’s management consulting business, added: “Moving smart city initiatives to the next level will not be easy, especially as community and utility leaders continue to confront a skeptical public.”


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